weekly toll: Death on the job

How workers died last week. Ground up in a wood chipper, killed on the tracks, crushed by garage door, traffic pole, and oil tank, falls, shootings, and traffic fatalities.  On average, almost 100 workers are killed every week in the United States due to traumatic injuries suffered at work. Over 20 times as many die from occupational diseases, many due to exposure to hazardous substances many years before they died, or from COVID-19 acquired at work. The few narratives below (gathered from almost 100 Google News searches) do not come close to capturing the full toll that work takes on the working people of this country — even in normal years, much less during the COVID pandemic. Nevertheless the accounts below gave you a taste of the preventable carnage occurring in workplaces across the country every day.

PATCO train strikes, kills 2 construction workers on Ben Franklin Bridge Friday night

CAMDEN, NJ — Two construction workers were killed Friday night on the Ben Franklin Bridge when a westbound PATCO Speedline train struck them, according to the Delaware River Port Authority. DRPA spokesman Mike Williams said Saturday morning the investigation is continuing and no more details are available immediately. DRPA bridge police and Camden County officials are involved in the investigation. Williams said the accident took place about 9:20 p.m. Friday near the middle of the seven-lane bridge but closer to the New Jersey side. A safety director for JPC Group Inc. said Saturday morning the two workers were part of the company, which is family owned and based in Philadelphia and Blackwood. The workers were involved in a long-term bridge rehabilitation project announced in March 2020 and due to continue through December 2024.

One dead, two injured after falling into soybean bin in Mississippi Delta

Itta Bena, Miss — One man has died after three workers fell into a soybean bin at a farm near Itta Bena. On Thursday, three unnamed men were retrieved from the metal storage container after falling in while working. 20-year-old Eugene Nicholas from the Republic of South Africa was removed from a hole cut at the base of the bin after five hours, with Leflore County Coroner Debra Sanders later confirming his death at 3:20 p.m. The other two men were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson to be treated for their injuries.

California tree trimmer dead after being dragged into wood chipper

MENLO PARK, Calif. – The Menlo Park Police Department responded Tuesday to reports of a horrific incident involving a man employed as a tree trimmer “falling into a wood chipper.” Responding officers along with fire personnel arrived about 12:53 p.m. in the 900 block of Peggy Lane and discovered what had to be a horrible scene. A man was found deceased from injuries sustained due to the industrial accident, Breaking 911 reported. The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday identified the victim as 47-year-old Jesus Contreras-Benitez of Redwood City, according to NBC Bay Area. It was unclear how Contreras-Benitez wound up in the piece of machinery. A reporter for KTVU in San Francisco, Jesse Gary, said the equipment had a safety plate that should prevent a person from falling in. Therefore, it is more likely he was somehow pulled into the chipper. i.e. an article of clothing could have snagged on a branch that was subsequently pulled into the equipment. The victim reportedly worked for the arboricultural firm S.P. McClenahan, a division of Bartlett Tree Experts.

Leicester landscaping company owner dies following small construction vehicle accident

Leicester, MA — The owner of a Leicester landscaping company was killed after he was trapped under a small construction vehicle Friday in a garage that housed the business, officials said. The victim was identified as Robert Stuart Jr., 51, in a statement released by the Worcester district attorney’s office Saturday. His death appears to be a tragic accident, according to Leicester Police Chief Kenneth Antanavica. Leicester police, fire, and EMS went to 66 King St. for a report of a man trapped under a piece of equipment at about 11:49 a.m. Friday, the statement said. Stuart was found trapped under a skid steer loader, which is often used for digging.

Oil Rig Worker Dies in McClain County Accident

DIBBLE, Okla.– Another Oklahoma oil rig worker was killed on the job in McClain County. On Sunday, Oct. 9, the McClain County Sheriff’s office received a call about the death of yet another oil rig worker. The victim, 27-year-old Shane Marshall from Waurika, died during an accident on the rig. “They were rigging up a tank. The tank weighed approximately 10 thousand pounds. They had put a chain on it. The crane was lifting the tank to reset it. Basically, they hooked up to it and as the crane was moving, it somehow the rigging came undone the tank fell and landed on the victim,” said James Goins, undersheriff McClain County.

Man killed in Henry County crash after overturning tanker truck

HENRY COUNTY, Ky. — A man has died after a deadly crash in Henry County. Kentucky State Police say it happened shortly after noon on Friday, Oct. 14. That is when they say the driver of a 2020 Freightliner Tanker ran off the left side of Lake Jericho Road. Investigators say the tanker eventually overturned. The Henry County Coroner pronounced him dead on the scene. The victim was identified as 63-year-old Steven Hammack of New Albany, Indiana.

Wolfspeed employee dies at Durham facility

DURHAM, N.C. — An employee at Wolfspeed in Durham died last week. The company confirmed to WRAL News that the person died at their facility on Thursday, Oct. 13. There were no details provided on how the person died. The victim’s name was not shared.

Box Truck Driver Killed In 2-Vehicle Crash On I-495 Thursday Morning

ANDOVER, MA — The driver of a box truck was killed in a two-vehicle crash Thursday morning on Interstate 495 in Andover, the Massachusetts State Police said. The victim, an adult male, was transported to Lawrence General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash, according to the MSP. The man’s name, age and hometown have not yet been released pending the notification of the next of kin, authorities said. According to a preliminary investigation conducted by the MSP-Andover Barracks and MSP specialized units, the crash involved two commercial vehicles: a waste services truck from Graham Waste Services of Brockton and the box truck. Authorities said the waste services truck, which was carrying a dumpster, was in the right lane of I-495 southbound and stopped in a line of vehicles waiting to exit onto the ramp to Interstate 93.The box truck approached the line of stopped traffic and hit the rear of the waste services truck, according to the MSP.

Worker dies after traffic pole falls on him in Buckeye

Buckeye, AZ — The Buckeye Police Department is investigating a fatal accident involving a traffic pole falling on a man. Officials said around 9 p.m. Thursday night, 47-year-old Brock Salveson was unloading a traffic pole to be installed near Broadway and Miller. He was killed when the pole fell on him. As a result, traffic was closed in all directions, and Buckeye police advised travelers to avoid the area. According to Buckeye police, Salveson worked for a contractor called AJP Electric and they notified Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Las Vegas Police Officer Shot, Killed in Exchange of Gunfire

Las Vegas, NV —  A veteran Las Vegas police officer patrolling an area that officials identified as a hotspot for crime died after being shot early Thursday during an exchange of gunfire with a man who was later arrested, authorities said. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters that Officer Truong Thai was fatally wounded while he and another officer answered a 1:08 a.m. emergency call about a domestic disturbance near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The suspect was armed with a firearm and fired at our officers,” Lombardo said. “Both responding officers discharged their duty weapons. One officer was struck.” Thai was wounded in the torso and died at a hospital, Lombardo said.

2 Bristol, CT officers killed, 1 seriously injured in shooting: State police

BRISTOL, Conn. — The two Bristol police officers who were shot dead late Wednesday were apparently drawn into an ambush by an emergency call about possible domestic violence, authorities said Thursday. State police said in a release that the 911 call about a dispute between two siblings appears to have been a “deliberate act to lure law enforcement” to a home around 10:30 p.m. on Redstone Hill Road in Bristol. Bristol police said Sgt. Dustin Demonte and Officer Alex Hamzy were shot and killed. Officer Alec Iurato was shot and seriously injured. “When officers arrived they were immediately met with the suspect outside of 310 Redstone Hill Rd. and shots were fired,” said Connecticut State Police Sgt. Christine Jeltema. One of the officers was pronounced dead at the scene while the other was rushed to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Corner Store Worker Killed in ‘Targeted’ Drive-by Shooting, Philly Police Say

Philadelphia, PA — A man working at his family’s Philadelphia corner store is dead after he was hit multiple times while getting into an SUV in a drive-by shooting after closing up the shop Thursday night, police said. Philadelphia police on patrol heard several gunshots around 8 p.m. and rushed toward the 2200 block of West Berks Street, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. Officers arrived to find a man — later identified as 33-year-old Ignacio Rodriguez — in the passenger’s seat of a parked SUV, Small said. Rodriguez was bleeding heavily from his chest and head.

OSHA investigating after Sam’s Club employee dies following workplace accident in Summit

Summit, CA — The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating a workplace accident at Sam’s Club in Summit Township on Sept. 30 that resulted in the death of a 20-year-old employee. Benjamin Knight Jr. died at UPMC Hamot on Friday, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said Wednesday. Knight was at work at Sam’s Club, 7200 Peach St., on Sept. 30 when he was struck by an overhead garage door after a spring snapped on the door, Cook said. He said the accident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Cook said Knight died of complications of blunt force trauma, and he rule the death as accidental.

Mississippi police officer killed, several others injured in shooting

GREENVILLE, Miss. — A police officer was shot to death and several other people were injured by gunfire Tuesday night in the Mississippi Delta. Det. Myiesha Stewart 3rd officer killed in line of duty this year in Mississippi. Greenville Police Department Detective Myiesha Stewart was killed as she and other officers responded to a call, according to Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell. He provided no other details about the circumstances of Stewart’s killing, including whether a suspect has been identified.

Man Killed in Crash While Working on Maryland Route 210

Fort Washington, MD — One man is dead after a fatal crash on Maryland Route 210, Prince George’s County Police said. Two vehicles were involved in the crash. A roadway worker is dead after a fatal crash involving two cars on Maryland Route 210, authorities say. The victim has been identified as Huerta Melendez, 56, of Montgomery Village, Maryland. He was working on a highway construction site at the time of the incident, according to police. Officers were called to Route 210, also known as Indian Head Highway, at Kerby Hill Road in the Fort Washington area for a crash involving a pedestrian at 11 p.m. on Tuesday. The crash occurred when a driver struck several traffic cones before striking Melendez who was standing in a closed section of the roadway.

2 killed, 6 injured in rollover accident involving van in Mitchell Interchange

MILWAUKEE, WI — Two people who died in a rollover crash on I-43 Wednesday have been identified as a 22-year-old Texas woman and 57-year-old Mississippi woman, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. Two victims trapped inside of the vehicle were killed in the accident. CNH Industrial has confirmed that their van was involved in the accident. In a statement, the company noted that the vehicle was a van transporting contract workers to their factory in Racine. They also confirmed that the driver and one of the contract workers were the two individuals who passed away in the accident.

Dump truck driver killed in crash near Clayton

Clayton, GA — A dump truck driver was thrown from his vehicle and killed late Tuesday morning in a crash on Highway 76 west of Clayton. Troopers were dispatched to the scene around 11:05 a.m. According to the Georgia State Patrol, 75-year-old Jerry James Payne was driving a Mack dump truck near Barnyard Road when he ran off the shoulder of the highway. The vehicle traveled down an embankment, tipped, and overturned. Troopers say Payne was not wearing his seatbelt. He was ejected and found dead at the scene.

Brockton waste management driver struck and killed by truck Saturday

Brockton, MA — An employee of Graham Waste Services in Brockton was killed Saturday after he was struck by a truck on the company’s property at 1093 North Montello Street, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office. Brockton police received a report of an employee struck by a truck at 8:37 a.m. on Saturday. When first responders arrived at the scene they located Natalio Daveiga, 57, and declared him dead at the scene.

UPS employee falls to her death at Worldport air hub in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, KY — A UPS worker fell to her death on Wednesday, October 5th, at the company’s massive Worldport air hub in Louisville, Kentucky. The incident was ruled a suicide by Louisville Metro police, according to a short article by WLKY, a local TV station. Several employees who contacted the station informed them that it happened shortly before 11 p.m. WLKY said they had reached out to the company, but they declined to release any details. A UPS loader said on Facebook: “My heart is broken for this young woman’s family and friends. All because UPS swept her mental health under the rug when she asked for help MULTIPLE times. They didn’t even stop production in that building during the cleanup. Do better, PLEASE!”

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